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IGF 2016 - Day 4 - Room 4 - WS109: Analyzing the Causes & Impacts of Internet Shutdowns

 

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Jalisco, Mexico, from 5 to 9 December 2016. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  We will get started with the panel since all of the speakers are here and we can wait for more people to trickle in as it progresses here.

Thank you, everyone, for being here for this discussion.  We have a great panel.  I'm Arjun Jayakumar, Software Freedom Law Centre.  I work for a nonprofit organisation that works on civil liberties in the Internet.  For awhile now Internet shutdowns have been one of our core areas of work.  India is in especially the heart of Internet shutdowns in this context.

To give you a brief introduction, our Director was originally supposed to be here and chairing the discussion, but she has taken rather ill and had a couple of other commitments and had to fly back to New York.  She asked me to convey her apologies for not being able to make it.  I'm sure we'll have a great discussion with all the people who are here.

Just a very brief introduction of our work.  Can we have the slides?

Okay.  So as I said, so we have been tracking the phenomenon of Internet shutdowns in India for awhile.  You can see on our home page there is a box on the right that contains an Internet tracker, an interactive map that catalogs where Internet shutdowns have taken place in India before and the frequency of the shutdowns and the reasons behind the shutdowns so people have an easy place to go for this information.

We also have broken up our research into separate data sets.  We have the info graphics, for instance, which represent what kind of Internet was shut down over the course of these years.  As you can see, there has been a definite increase in the number of shutdowns and it is mostly of the mobile Internet networks.  There has been almost no shutdown of the fixed network in India and both are occasionally shut down on occasions. 

Durations have been increasing.  We have seen there have been more and more shutdowns that last for a very long period of time.  And we have even this had a couple of shutdowns particularly in the State of Kashmir which is especially prone to political attention.  We have shutdowns that lasted for months all together and most of these shutdowns are seen to be reactive in nature in the sense that once a certain event occurs, they go ahead and shut down the Internet to prevent the possibility of violence that breaks out after this event.

We will be launching a new Internet shutdown tracker soon, a stand-alone Web site from the international tracker which also gives people an option to report these shutdowns in a better way.  Let me not take any more time of yours in explaining my work as I'm sure we're all here to hear from our eminent panelists.

Today we have Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access Now.  And Access Now has been running a successful campaign called keep it on, which has done tremendous work to draw momentum to this issue of shutdowns and got more people talking about the whole issue.

We have Gisela Perez de Acha, Public Director at Derechos Digitales.  She's recently written a paper on shutdowns, during the shutdowns in L.A. She is well placed to talk on this.  We have Nanjira Sambuli, who is advocacy member and World Wide Web foundation.  She spoke on Kenya's crack down on the Internet in the past.  We also have Nicolas Seidler, a senior policy advisor at ISOC.  At ISOC he focuses mostly on Internet Governance and human rights.

We have Amos Toh, the Special Advisor to the Special Rapporteur.  The U.S. has condemned shutdowns in the past, and we are eager to hear what he has to say.  We have Mr. Rajan Mathews, the Director General of the Cellular Operators Association of India, and he can tell us how the ISPs are handling the situation and what it means for business in India.

And we have Hiba who is a senior policy analyst at Google, one of the Internet's most widely used platforms.  Google probably experiences the most amount of flak from Internet shutdowns.  You can also comment a lot on this issue.  Finally we have Jan Rydzak, with The Global Initiative, and he has spoken and written on international shutdowns and written a paper which will be published soon by GNA.

That is our panelists.  The format will be there will be five-minute window for each panelist to make their opening remarks following which we will proceed further with the discussion and I'll pose a couple of questions to the panel that we can take up for discussion.

If we can just start from the end of the table since we have no particular, can we start with you, Brett?

>> BRETT SOLOMON:  Hi.  Thanks a lot for the invitation to join this great panel.  And I might start off with a definition if that's okay.  It is important that we understand that we are all talking about the same thing.  So last year at a multi-stakeholder group got together to formulate text that would capture the concept of what an Internet shutdown is.  We are still in in norm development stage, like understanding what is the kind of legal frameworks, what is the wording, the nomenclature that could describe what the words that we should use to describe an Internet shutdown. 

So we pulled together a group that actually developed this definition.  It is not necessarily the definition, but it gives a good sense as we started to develop norms, what they are.  An Internet shutdown is an intentional disruption of Internet or electronic couples rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable for a specific population or within a location often to exert control over the flow of information.

So we could spend a couple of hours looking at each word there, but we have started to see that sort of language used at the Human Rights Council and other entities as those norms get developed.  So that as we name this and shape this we also work out what causes it.  For the title of this panel, what the impacts are, how to ameliorate them. 

I want to go directly to Gambia, that is the most recent shut down that I think we have seen.  In fact, the end of a subpoenaed and its a successful kind of response to a government attempt to shut down the Internet.  The cause related to an election.  I think one of the things we have seen at access now, we've started to audit and track Internet shutdowns over many years, but most recently over this year we've tracked more than 50.

Elections and moments of heightened political activity are definitely precursors to Internet shutdowns.  In response we saw an extraordinary amount of international pressure from civil society, from operators, from platforms and from political pressure from governments to respond to this shutdown in Gambia.  I think people probably, many people know here, and better than I, that Gambia, a country of 2 million people, it only has one Internet exchange point, one point of entry.  It makes it easier to shut down the Internet.

Really, pleased to announce that it was, the shutdown was designed to end through to last Saturday.  The Internet was back up on Friday.  A good test there of the way in which all of us work together to try to respond to this threat.

I want to touch on the kind of economic impact, and I think others will more broadly, or more deeply.

The consequences of Internet shutdowns are not just related to human rights.  For us as an organisation, we do focus on the right to freedom of expression, opinion, association, privacy and the right of secrecy imparting information, all directly and bluntly impacted by an Internet shutdown.  There is also an economic impact.  If we start to see some of the documents that have come out over the last month or so, two key documents.  One from the GNI and the other from the Brookings Institution, looking at the cost.  India alone, in other words, shutdowns cost $960 million to the economy.  If that is an argument enough?  Add to all the human rights implications, then we need to start to think about why this is happening and how we can actually respond in a way that brings in the finance sector, that brings in the banking community, that brings in the emergency services and so on. 

To say this is a multifaceted impacting activity and that activity should come to an end, at the point we would like to make as part of the coalition, around 100 civil society organisations, is that we should not take Internet shutdowns into our Internet future.  We need to relegate them to the past.  If we think about land mines, for instance, land mines have been kind of outlawed under international human rights law.  It is a similar kind of thing with Internet shutdowns.  As the Internet becomes such a significant part of every single one of our lives from healthcare to education to water provision to all of the civil and political rights, this taking away of the Internet or taking away of connectivity needs to be relegated to the dust bin of history.

And as part of that and in the process as we do that I think we need to think about measurement.  We need to think about how we actually measure an Internet shutdown.

There is a growing consensus that we need to develop ways in which we track these disruptions.  There is currently no agreed-upon -- sorry about the reverb -- there is no agreed-upon sense of how data is collected, where it is collected, the criteria that is used to assess an Internet shutdown.

So we are part of a community that is trying to urge all different parts of the broader sector, from Google to Facebook to other companies that are measuring Internet traffic to be able to collectively pool that data so that we are able to review when an Internet shutdown takes place so we are able to respond to it.

I'll finish by mentioning the campaign that we have been working on, which is -- sorry about that.  Maybe someone who is in tech, can you just ... there's a bit of reverb happening.  Don't shut it down. 

(Laughter.)

>> BRETT SOLOMON:  So I think we need some creative solutions in response to Internet shutdowns.  Access Now partnered with a company called Lush, a cosmetics company some of you may know, over the last month or so they and us have produced, believe it or not, a bath bomb, which is what you see when the Internet is shutdown.  They have a thousand stores around the world, 14,000 staff.  Every shop window has an (Aero 404 bomb) on it.  We raised thousands of dollars and we delivered 55,000 signatories to the Freedom Online Coalition.  It is that kind of creative partnership around all of us around the table and others, too to put an end to Internet shutdowns once and for all.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you so much, Brett.  Nicola.

>> Hi, I'm Nicola from the Internet Society.  We are a global NGO advocating for the growth of the Internet and I think like most of us around this table, we have been extremely concerned about the rise of full network shutdowns, partial shutdowns or Web site blocking.

I think during this discussion we will talk about the human rights impact, the economic impact, but just as I know, food for thought for introduction I wanted to introduce the notion of the impact of shutdowns on trust.  Trust is a really foundational pillar of the Internet.  One facet of trust that I think is essential is the expectation that people, companies and other Internet users have that you expect the Internet to be sort of always on and available at all times, bearing a few exceptions.

And really, on this assumption that the Internet will be on, people trust their careers on the basis that they will be able to communicate online.  Companies spend money in countries where they trust they can operate those services.  Countries themselves trust that they will be able to conduct trade and eCommerce between their countries and other countries.

And I think that what is true for those sort of economic examples are very true for the social and personal investment that people make in the Internet as well.

So I think the idea I want to leave here is that one single Internet shutdown is enough to plant the seed of unpredictability.  One single shutdown can introduce in people's minds the idea that's, well, my Internet connection is maybe going to be cut off on an arbitrary basis.  As the saying goes, trust is really hard to get and easily lost.  I think one of those occurrences is the pathway that could lead to an enterprise not to be created, a relationship not to be formed, services not to be used.  I think that as Brett mentioned there have been economic studies which are extremely useful.  I think that they can help advocating in the space.  But these are only the direct and short on costs of those shutdowns.  I think the loss of trust of people create what we call opportunity costs when it comes to the Internet as well.

We will be happy to discuss further on measurement as well if that is raised.  Thank you.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you, Nicola.  Can we now have Amos?

>> AMOS TOH:  Hi.  Thank you so much for the invitation to this panel and putting together such a great panel.  Thank you too also to Brett and Nicola for kind of highlighting not just the challenges around shutdowns but the gravity of a single shutdown as you mentioned.

I want to maybe just go into, I just have two overarching comments on shutdowns that I think will be elaborated as the event goes on.  One is that I think we need to start moving away from this notion, this popular notion, maybe in not in the human rights community but certainly in the general public that a network shutdown only occurs when the telecommunications and the Internet networks are completely cut off throughout the entire country.  I think that's what access' definition captures well, the nuances in how shutdowns actually happen and the Human Rights Council resolution passed recently has a far more nuanced and comprehensive definition of a shutdown.  Shutdown can be both blanket and surgical, triggered not just for elections and preliminary security reasons but incredibly pedantic ones.  We have seen the phenomenon of shutdowns being used as a way to prevent cheating in examinations in many countries.  Technically speaking I think states are more creative in initiates shutdowns that evade scrutiny.

So I think these are some of the elements of shutdowns that we need to be more aware about, and we need to increase awareness about.  We saw that shutdowns targeting Ethiopia, for example, targeting the Oromo region, we saw shutdowns targeting one small region in Bahrain.  There were Internet services in Chad, it is also a shutdown when we see there is intentional disruption to apps that are so widely use that they constitute significant aspects of the Internet for many users.

I think one thing that needs to be fleshed out more is also the difficulties in detecting shutdowns because sometimes it is not just cutting off access.  We have received reports in our office of the truncating of networks.  In (Dhuraz) -- I'm sorry, not pronouncing it right -- 4G and 3G networks was disabled and it is an elaborate office effort.  It is difficult to detect.  Sometimes the only way you are able to see, you realise you have been able to only send one tweet in an hour as opposed to usually the very many tweets that you send.  Maybe that is a more complicated landscape we are dealing with and a much more challenging landscape.

I will end with these two challenges.  One is, one of the key challenges I think is wreaking to what I would term flash mob shutdowns.  I think that we see shutdowns, most of the shutdowns we see last for a couple of hours or a couple of days.  We have certainly seen significant shutdowns that last for months.

But we see kind of these flash shutdowns.  It is sometimes very difficult, at least from the mandate's ability to react.  By the time you have a meeting or talk to a reporter, it's over.  There needs to be accountability and international pressure for a time after the shutdown happens.  I think Access Now certainly does a good job of that.  The groups around the table have certainly done a good job of increasing accountability. 

I saw today that the observatory of Internet interference, which performed technical analysis of the shutdown in Gambia last week which provides a key historical analysis point for future shutdowns.  My question is, what do we do with the shutdowns that last for protracted periods of time but taken in aggregate can be still really harmful.

The second thing is, the conference, one of the running themes has been the interdependence of civil and political rights and economic and social rights.  And this is no more evident, no more concretely evident than in the phenomenon of shutdowns, right?  And I think the Brookings Institution report has really done a good job of talking about losses to GDP and overall economic growth, but perhaps it's time.  Maybe this is already being done, but we need to amplify these voices.  Perhaps it's really time to talk about how shutdowns affect the individual's right to education, to housing, to health, cuts off emergency services in a way that violates the entire suite of economic and social rights.

So maybe that is something that we can work on together in the future, if it's not already being worked on.

I leave my comments there.  Thank you very much.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you so much, Amos.

We now ... (Speaker away from microphone.)

From Google, thank you.

>> Thank you so much.  I'm very, very happy to be here, but part of me is a little sad because that means that Internet shutdowns are still a huge problem and despite the amazing work by a lot of folks in this room we have a lot of work to do.  That said, I agree with a lot of my co-panelists that bringing together folks from various sectors to come together and think about how we can more clearly and persuasively articulates the way in shutdowns hamper growth and development is critical and the only way forward on this issue.  To brainstorm the ways we can address and collaborate on -- I don't want to speak for everyone, but all of us have a common goal of an open Internet that enables social and free expression globally.  The Internet these days is linked to so many other rights and arenas, it is becoming critical.

Before going into why Google cares about this issue and how we are approaching it I want to reiterate the importance of what some of my panelists have mentioned, which is that I feel like some of us here are very invested in this issue, but for folks not here, they generally hear about shutdowns once every year or every two years when there is a blanket shutdown for an extended period of time.  Addressing the issue in a more granular way to include expect shutdowns of blog services, mobile SMS, whatever, I think is an important sort of awareness to help people understand that.

The Brookings study and the Global Network Initiative Report have done an amazing job.  Some of the numbers in both of those reports are staggering.  The Brookings reports 81 shutdowns in the year between July 2015 and June 2016, which is much higher than even I was aware of.  Pretty important.

So in addition to working with a lot of the folks in this room and working through the Global Network Initiative, one of the biggest things we as Google do to address this issue is supply as much of our own data as we can.  We are very, very transparent about when we see disruptions on our services.  We show realtime traffic on our transparency report site.  If you go to Google.com/transparency/-- sorry. /transparency report/traffic you can see recent and ongoing disruptions of traffic to Google products around the world.  You can review current disruptions, browse documented disruptions, break out data by geographic region and product.  One of the most useful things you can do, you can export raw data in various machine readable formats so that developers and researchers can take that information, revisualize it, overlay it with other data points to test and draw new hypothesis.

I'm looking forward to this conversation, very, very open to hearing other metrics, other data points that you think would be helpful that we could provide.

I do think that, I can talk a little bit later during the conversation, thinking about different ways in which investors can play a role in this sector and some of my panelists hinted at this, but the social and economic and rights-oriented impacts are interconnected, addressing all of that holistically is critical.  The numbers of the costs are very impactful and important, but we need to think about this as, the impacts of this are very, very interconnected.

So I started out on a bleak note but I do think there is real progress on this issue, there's phenomenal work being down.  UNHCR's commitment to this is amazing, access now has a great campaign.  This is an issue that we can tackle if we continue to have conversations like this.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you so much, Hiba.  We have Mr. Mathews.

>> RAJAN MATHEWS:  Yes, thank you.  My name is Rajan Mathews representing the mobile operators, most of them in India.  Let me just give you a few data points before we get into some of the causes.  First of all, remember that in India we already have one major network which is the mobile network.  In most other countries you have at least five networks.  You have a robust land line, you have a mobile network, satellite network, you have a two way cable network, private networks, you have government networks.  In India you have one network which is the mobile network:  Land line network is only penetrated five to 7 percent, losing share every month.

We have 1.1 billion connections.  That's pretty significance can.  So this becomes the dominant network by which the government conducts its business and commerce is CCTLD conducted and everything else.  That is the context of the role of the mobile network in India.  The second point we need to consider, in India -- and I speak specifically in the Indian context -- all mobile companies and ISP providers are licensed by the government.  That means that you stand in the shoes of the sovereign.  So you are a representative of the government in terms of the exercise of what you do on, in terms of running your network.  So that is the second point.

The third point is one of ethics.  I hear a lot of this nuance in terms of when do you shut down and when you don't.  Let me give you the 101.  When you are studying business ethics, there's a situation that is presented, right?  A runaway train is on the track.  There's a side track and a main track.  If there is one person working on the main track would you as the person who had the lever switch it on to the other track?  Most everybody said of course I would switch it.  The next scenario, there is one person there, a group of people there.  Would you then pull the lever?  You know, the question most people said of course, I would in order to save the group offer the one.  And the third point is, what happened if that one person was your daughter or son?  What would that do?  There are nuances in terms of making choice.

The fundamental question we have to ask when standing in the shoes of the sovereign, what are individual rights and what are societal rights?  I think we need to begin to answer this question because I have a great deal of sympathy for the poor chap on the ground, the government, who is called the district magistrate.  He by law is required to maintain social order.  And there are laws in India which are very, very expansive.  Anything that creates societal unrest, religious or ethnic ground or any other grounds, the district magistrate has the right to ensure that there is no societal disorder.  All right, so there's wide powers granted in order to be able to do this.

What are the causes in which in India we have shutdowns?  First of all, it is for security reasons.  If you saw the map of India, you notice that a lot of the shutdowns are in the border areas with Pakistan, China.  The other, we have insurgent activity areas, folks who have for whatever reason cause against the government and for that reason conduct various things.  Of course, since this is the dominant network, all of that activity happens on our networks.

All right?  So that's the security issue.

Mob control.  If the person finals out that there is mobs being created as a result of SMS or things going environmental, then of course this is an issue.  Let me give you an instance in point.  There was an instance of a rape situation in Delhi and all of a sudden there was a mass out pouring of sentiment.  And the government and the local police found that they would not be able to cope with the mob response.  So they asked operators to shut down SMSs.  So we were then in a situation on the government ordering to shut it down.

Another instance, a community issue was a question.  In the state, one of the southern states, all of a sudden there went a environmental message which talked about the ethnic not Eastern community taking away jobs and creating problems.  All of a sudden there was mass violence that is spreading against the northeast community and the government, of course, then realised it was spreading environmentally as a result of SMSs and all of the other social media.  They said please, shut it down.

Third point, another cause which has been suggested or pointed out cheating, right?  Yes?  In India, just about access to any major government job or institution is accessed through public exam.  All right, so these are strenuous, these determine your future and they determine the future of students and there's massive instances of cheating, most of it conducted by virtue of access to some social media, some messaging service or something on the Internet.

So these are instances when the government, for example, shut down vast areas of the Internet, shut it down because of these types of concerns.  These are the areas in which government has used shutdowns.

Now, what is our response?  The community, the operator community said can we be more surgery?  Unfortunately, we haven't developed the instrumentality on the Internet to be more surgical in terms of what we shut down and what we can leave open and how to control this on a more refined perspective.  We are looking for those types of tools as a community to help us to be more surgical as opposed to being so broad based in terms of not saying your only recourse is to shut down messaging or social media or vast access to the network.

The second one is one of law.  This is, what do you do if you as an operator are subject to the laws of the country?  You are standing in the shoes of the sovereign.  You do have these governmental laws which are on the books.  These are acts of the government, where you are responsible for maintaining peace and law and order and societal peace and all of these things.  These are difficult issues and any help you can give us, we're always open.  Thank you.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you so much, Mr. Rajan Mathews.  Now we could have the views of Ms. Nanjira?

>> NANJIRA SAMBULI:  Sure.  So it is great that we've gone in that perspective and we have been piling on it because now I think we can turn it around and talk about the political situation.  This is all very political.  The Internet increasingly accepted as a tool for economics, governments respond well to the potential and the economics but the idea of trying to separate civil and political rights.  When we start talking about that, even offline it's like:  Okay, let's just calm down these discussions.

The idea that our rights can be strung along in different ways is part of the problem here.  These are problems that need political solutions.  The question becomes then when the teleco is approached and it's a security issue, the same thing as Kenya, I imagine.  We are hypothesizing what kind of situations we have.  We have similar contexts.  The question becomes in terms of insurgency or in the case of electoral or conflict outcome, are we then fundamentally saying yes, we should be you shutting down the Internet in the name of international security.  There are threads here that could risk being normalized the more we engage especially with trying to pull out some of the actors in the political, you know, the political community to understand why that must be the way.  It reminds me of an exercise at the Internet freedom forum where we did scenario mapping.  You are a politicians who calls the teleco, where is the civil society who should be asked.  They are throttled where the civil society actors are.  They can't register concerns or protest.  How do we get the political community to be involved?  I think I am willing to wager we don't have anyone from government.

Okay, great!  Or somebody more like from the executive even who would give that order to understand the psychology of why you give that order and why you feel that's the case.  Now, the risk we are seeing now is that the risk in the name of national security, shut it down.  It is normalizing.  My question becomes to a teleco, is there any point of resistance there that they can take on?  I understand the law, I absolutely understand the challenges here, but I worry when I hear we should look for tools that would help us with the surgical shutdowns.  There's something being normalized.  Today it would be insurgency.  Tomorrow when I don't like something that somebody is doing and there's a surgical solution, I shut it down.  Keeping people off, the divides we have been trying to reduce, we would -- we will have forever lost that battle and the Internet will become where you follow the political spectrum.

As we discuss solutions, how to go forward, the political element is not lost.  This is deeply political.  I even had a government official to tell me it is their right to defend themselves as a government when they feel the people are attacking them.  That kind of rationale, we need to question where is the space to question it.  We need to take the discussion to the people ordering it.

And I don't know if I have any offered any solutions, but this is a challenge I felt strongly must be put in context and not lost in the technical discussions.  Thanks.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you, Nanjira.  Those are some very important points.  Gisela, if we could have your views?

>> GISELA PEREZ de ACHA:  Hi.  Thank you very much.  I really like going after Nanjira.  I feel you contextualized exactly what I was wanting to say.  And I am going to give two very quick examples on Internet shutdowns in two very, very complicated political context.  In Venezuela and Ecuador, these are very similar.  They started with the hacking of the Presidential or candidates' Twitter accounts.  That was the antecedent, but it seemed like power was responding with a shutdown or shutting down certain sites over others with an executive order.  It is striking that two of the most authoritarian countries in South America have the same pattern.  They have no judicial oversight.  In both countries you have an antecedent of Chavez and Correira censoring television and press and the media when they didn't want certain facts going out.

I'm wondering if Internet shutdowns, and they effectively are in these cases, total censorship.  It is direct and indirect censorship.  Has chilling effects as well.  If hacking the Presidential Twitter account, could that be an act of protest?  Is it a legitimate act of protest?  If I see that somebody hacked it maybe I will be deterred from hacking it again, right?

I'm going to tell you how it went in both countries and to finalize with some reflections in terms of what we could start imagining in terms of public policy.  So Nicolas Maduro, the interim president now in Venezuela.  He was a candidate.  They hacked his account.  The Internet across the country was down for 20 minutes, according to users, but only three minutes according to authorities.  This was executed by CAM TV, the patent monopoly owned ISP.  There we have the first problem, monopolistic state-owned ISPs.  That is, we have a lot to discuss there in Venezuela, right?

So that left 90 percent of the population with no Internet, of course, because then you have a monopolistic teleco that is closely linked to the government.

Then another problem, the different physical layers in Venezuela are controlled directly by the central government too.  Access to the majority of the pages was reestablished after awhile especially for news and social network sites.  That is closely linked and directed to censorship.  This is very funny.  The vice-president tweeted:  Fellow countrymen, there is no problem with the Internet.  Calm down.  It was just a brief maneuver to prevent conspiracy hackings from abroad. 

Yes, Venezuela has electronic voting.  The question I really, like this pops into my mind.  Are Internet shutdowns a proportionate measure for protecting elections?  A, why do you have electronic voting, right?  I mean, the electronic voting is complicated as it is, about you that's another topic.  Let's not go there with the United States election.  It was being really controversial, too.  Let's leave that aside.

Two, is an Internet shutdown a proportionate measure to protect the electoral process?  Probably not.  If you are living leaving 90 percent of population with no Internet at all.  Aren't there better solutions to make the electronic voting more secure, transparent or whatever?  Why were you shutting down the Internet?  This is not an acceptable excuse.

Also in Venezuela, protests were escalating, hundreds of blogs and websites were reported as blocked, also Twitter and the associated platforms.

In Ecuador, it was very similar.  Somebody hacked in 2014 the presidential account of Rafael Correira -- I probably shouldn't be saying that, but I think his relationship to Twitter is funny.  He is a bit like, I don't know -- he just says what he likes on Twitter.  He has a personal relationship to Twitter.  He has no community management over there.  I don't know how it works.  That Twitter account is very important in Ecuador because it is sort of like a direct relationship to the president.  And he even replies to trolls and citizens that criticize him.

So the next day hackers post the personal emails from the country's spy chief on a Google hosted blog which contained the classic a none news YouTube protest videos.

Hours later Internet users in Ecuador reported not being able to access Google and YouTube.  This is not a shut down itself as it was in Venezuela, but still very concerning that these sites were blocked after a political act and after political protests online.

Also in these countries and in Mexico as well, online protests are increasingly important, given the physical repression that we suffer from policemen when we go out and protest on the streets.

So I am going to leave it there.  I could talk also about the what's app blocking.  This is not executive order but a judicial order.  It is really -- sometimes we just say oh, judicial oversight and Internet blockings or shutdowns, but not really, right?  When you have judges that don't understand encryption and how it works and arresting the Facebook's VP for Latin America, there's another problem.

Lastly, in Mexico, we knew with the hacking emails, the email infiltrations, I had to go through all the Mexico ones.  So I knew a lot of juicy gossip.  One of them was that they blocked the entire NexTel network to block it for their political opponents during the elections in Puebla in the neighboring state.  That is not proportionate.  It is surreal and out of control.  How do you block the entire network so your opponents can't communicate with themselves.

I say we should think about regulation.  We can not have state owned telecommunications monopoly.  The law problem that was raised before is also problematic.  Laws in Ecuador force blocking certain sites given an executive order.  How do we harmonise this in terms of a human rights standard that is applicable to enterprises and maybe push them to push back, right?  If they are going to get in trouble within national law but is there an incentive we could create so they get in trouble with national law but they prefer to get in trouble with national law rather than human rights law?

I don't know if what I'm saying makes sense but we should think in terms of that.  Thank you very much.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you.

>> Hello, I'm Marta from Ecuador.  Thank you for the --

(Overlapping speakers.)

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Excuse me, ma'am?  We do have one final panelist left.  So probably can we have your remarks after the final panelist speaks?

>> AUDIENCE:  Sorry, I just wanted to comment on her, but never mind.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Okay.  We'll just get back to you.  Very sorry to cut you off.  We finally have Jan Rydzak, if you can, please?

>> JAN RYDZAK:  Hello, everybody.  Thanks very much for convening this panel.  It's a very good trend that there's more than one panel on Internet network shutdowns at IGF.  I think it is a very good sign that this issue is becoming more and more prominent and it is jumping on to the agenda of not just one category of stakeholders, not just NGOs but also state representatives, academics, investors.  So it is very important that SFLC should be organizing this panel given that you are a local voice.  We have a lot of discussion on the global level, but knowing how the reality of shutdowns on the ground is important. 

One of my favorite parts of the previous session on shutdowns was optimistic where several participants mentioned some positive trends that we have seen in shutdowns.  Of course, the most recent case is in Ghana where President Mahama decided the that the shutdown that was announced foretold to take place would not actually take place.  This is to me the most important thing about this particular case is that it highlights the crucial nature of having world leaders who understand technology.  President Mahama previously worked in telecommunications if I'm not mistaken.  Capacity building in terms of how state leaders view the consequences of their actions is extremely important.

Now, I can go through a few trends that exist in Internet shutdowns.  Of course, it's always hardest to go last.  All the good chunks have been taken.  I'll go through them quick.  Is it -- we are seeing more and more shutdowns happening in democracies.  It is not a monopoly of nondemocratic countries.  The momentum of development of Internet access is stronger in the developing world and in nondemocratic countries, but it is certainly a worrying trend that we are seeing an explosion of shutdowns in countries like India and countries like Brazil.

Fortunately, in many of these cases we can count on some countervailing pressures.  If there is a separation of powers and system of checks and balances, hopefully we can at least keep the damage of these events to a minimum.  I think a case in point is Brazil here where the shutdowns were ordered by regional judges and quickly reversed by higher authorities.  I think that's an important thing to note.

Of course, we are also seeing more preventive shutdowns around such varied circumstances as elections, protests.  There was a shutdown, I believe, in Gujarat which was before a wrestling match that takes place annually.  So the fact that governments consider it possible to predict the incidence of violence is a worrying trend because it is no longer just reactive to incidents that already have taken place, but it is impossible to predict the future.  Even governments do not have the capacity to do this.

Third, shutdowns are becoming more surgical rather than widespread country-wide shutdowns like the Egyptian case are rarely seen and when they do take place like in Gabon, they tend to have a certain property such as being implemented only in certain hours, right?  It was 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. in the case of Gabon.

But I think one thing we haven't mentioned yet is that shutdowns are increasingly legitimized by the law of each country.  This includes democratic countries.  I was reporting a few months back on the inclusion of shutdowns as a possibility, possible reaction in two situations of national security in Poland, my own home country.  Many of these clauses kind of slip into new law without being noticed because while there are many, there may be many other controversial clauses beyond that and many times the fact that the government has taken it upon itself to legitimize shutdowns in cases of national security is very worrying.

Of course, the fact that we have a category of shutdowns that don't fit into any other categories is extremely worrying because it is testament to the fact that we are observing more and more arbitrary shutdowns.  The example here is the shutdown drill that took place recently in Bangladesh following the attack at the cafeteria as a means of testing the government's reactions in cases of danger.

I think one more thing that we should probably look into as well is the fact that we are talking about overt measures of restricting action.  Inaction and inertia are also forms of restricting access.  Recently there was a report that it was actually an article published in the Journal of Science that demonstrated that marginalised ethnic groups tend to have weaker Internet access to begin with around the world.

This is something that is not captured by current measures because we are only looking at dips in access in places that are used to having it and not those that never have it to begin with.  So in this case we must support investment to expand access in these areas which are marginalized on several levels.

One more thing that wasn't mentioned yet.  We probably have several representatives of telecommunications companies in this room.  We should also take into account that in many of these restrictive regimes, telecommunications companies are bound by the law.  Whether they are state-owned or foreign companies, they are subject to the law of the nation.  And in many cases, at least in the interviews I have conducted in the past few months, many telecommunications companies have reported instances of direct threats to the wellbeing of their workers.  This is very important to consider this because they are, those who are actually on the ground, whose physical and psychological wellbeing is also implicated in these cases and they are almost always bound to compliance.  The most that they can do is typically to request a formal demand from the government to shut down access.  So many of these requests are given by phone.  And the most that any telecommunications company can do is really to request a written request to have it in absolutely -- to have direct proof that this request has taken place.  This creates a chilling effect for other companies.

Finally, I guess I'll wrap up here.  We should also, I think it is also time to take a critical look at international law on this issue because there sometimes there is little we can do about national laws, but if we look at Article 19, paragraph 3 of ICCPR.  This article defines acceptable restrictions to freedom of expression.  And it has been recently applied by the UN Human Rights Council to the Internet as well.

One important aspect of that often ignored by governments is the fact that there is a proportionality principle embedded in that article that has been verified many times over by international bodies.  Restrictions must be proportionate.  So far we have seen very little evidence that countries actually adhere to this norm.

If we try to pursue greater enforceability of both international law and court rulings on the national level perhaps we will see more action in this respect.  Thank you.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Okay.  Thank you, Jan.

So those were a couple of very great remarks from the panel.  Before we open it up to the floor for questions I would like to leverage my position as moderator and ask a couple of questions to the panel, actually one question to the panel.  So we have seen that Internet shutdowns happen for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes it is politically motivated and people want to restrict the possibility of violent protests during elections.  Other times, like the Internet shutdowns as shown in India, it is for reasons far more trivial, things like cheating in the examinations given as grounds for shutting down the Internet and also wrestling matches with very loud fans.

These are just figures that represent the number of times the Internet as a whole has been shut down.  So I guess my question then to the panel in general is, at least in India since the enabling factor behind these shutdowns was seen to be the existence of the provision of law which allows the government to take any action to prevent public disorder in times of turbulence like this, do you think that the ideal responses to Internet shutdowns should then look at reviewing and remedying existing laws that probably enable actions like this?  Are we looking at some sort of broader action that is not entirely legal centric but is also more about the mind set that permits Internet shutdowns?

Anybody from the panel if you would like to take it up?

>> NANJIRA SAMBULI:  I'm fascinated by the idea of legal reform because coming where I'm from in Kenya, for instance, it is just something to check the box.  If the fundamental software in, the mental software of how the state interacts with its citizens is still flawed, it doesn't matter how many times we amend laws.  Preceding the idea that laws that need to be reformed because privacy and security laws are being revised and giving government such wide berth of what they can do, where can we have discussions proactively.  What we are being cornered to is reactive responses and engagements.  How do we get the government to engage on why that is how we should proceed, if we are.  If they are going to talk about laws and reforming of laws, it is because we have challenged the political thinking.  Else we will be here trying to find resolutions in the next IGF, but the fundamental issue has not been addressed.

I feel that the cart does need to be put before the horse.  But let's not forget about the political horse that is problematic to the core.

>> I couldn't agree more with that.  I do think there's a lot of work we need to do to pave the way for laws to be able to be changed.  I don't think we are there yet.  I don't think any of us could go into our countries and ask for change on that level.  I think there's still a lot of work that needs to be done to link the free expression impact of this with the economic impact of this.  I think that we often think about free expression as a nice thing to have, and economic growth is -- yea, everybody agrees on it!

But the fact is that making a convincing and compelling argument that a free, open Internet does lead to substantial economic growth within your country is something we need to do.  One of most compel things, if you look at the World Bank's doing business survey and if you look at the freedom and openness reports, you'll see that the cans that are good on respecting human rights are also more conducive to businesses being there, economic growth.  That leverage, I think, is something we need to exercise rather than having siloed discussions about impact there and free expression there.

>> RAJAN MATHEWS: One of the things we've noticed is, people raise their voices only when there's a problem, right?  I'm convinced that in India certainly when there was a mass out pouring of anti-governmental sentiment, the government did respond.  And it happened over social media and over the Internet and over these public forums.

I'm saying that the old adage, right, eternal vigilance is the price of our freedoms.  If you're interested in our freedoms, civil society and our processes must begin to address it in the process of forming these laws.  Or in the process of being involved in changing these laws.  Wait and wish that they are going to go away and something magical is going to happen in government giving us access, unfettered access to the Internet is a pipe dream.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Okay.  Gisela?

>> GISELA PEREZ de ACHA: Sorry.  I just want to quickly point to actually the American Convention of Human Rights of the OES has a very explicit note.  It says Article 13, the right of expression may not be restricted by indirect methods or means such as the views of government or private controls over equipment used in the dissemination of information.

It is very interesting because it will start off, this was drafted in a pre-Internet era, as we know it.  But the problem with this again is enforceability within the region.  So at least we have a very clear text.  As least we know it is contrary to free speech very, very clearly.  How we land that in national laws is the complicated step, politically and legally.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you.  Just one final question from my end.  So this I think is directed to Brett in particular.  Since we have a strong campaign, like keep it on, which is creating great moment around Internet shutdowns, I want to ask:  What would be the steps that we take to counter the problem of Internet shutdowns, say in the next three months?  Are there concrete action items we are looking at?  Technical measures to circumvent?  What are we looking at in terms of responses?

>> BRETT SOLOMON:  Thanks.  Obviously there's a whole lot to do and I'm really glad that the Fellow panelist from India is here because I do think we need to address the national security threat that happens on the Internet.  Like we can't just wish it away and pretend there is not a problem.  It's true that there is activities that governments and operators need to respond to.

So I just want to acknowledge that.  I don't think that civil society actors here are operating in, or thinking about this in a bubble.  It's a real threat.  It's a question of how we deal with it.

I want to touch on the point around the legality of Internet shutdown stop sign.  To note that many of the laws that are actually being used, if a law is being relied upon, in India, for instance, is back from 1885.  I mean, the law that the U.S. President, the new incoming U.S. President will have the power to shut down the Internet based on a law from 1934.  And I will add with the U.S. government, it is pretty much a unilateral power that he has in the context of national peril or war.

Laws that have been passed in other environments are then applied in this situation today is rather frightening.  The new legalities, the new legislation, the new bills being proposed.  Sometimes we see them they are in second or third rating stages in Parliaments before anyone assessed them.

In the terrorist age, having that kind of absolute power is frightening without it being discussed by civil societies or citizens.

Keep It On, those who would like to join, it's a coalition of civil society organisations, around 100 around the world.  It's like an alert network where we all advise each other on bills, on shutdowns as they take place in realtime.  It's excellent.  Come see me afterwards.

One more thing.  Many of the operators and ISPs and telecom companies are dealing with this on their own, dealing with the situations where the government asks them to shut down the Internet.  One of the things that the keep it on coalition is doing is pulling together a best practices document.  Don't just show it in writing but how do the sectors stand together, to stand up to shutdowns as they take place.  ISPs don't want to shut down the Internet either.

We are developing a kit for people to respond, letters to the editor, letters to regulators, mechanisms, arguments that work in response to government and ISP shutdowns, so that we can learn from each other on how to make sure, as I say, Internet shutdowns are a thing in the past in the context of nationality security threats and other threats taking place.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you, Brett.  Do you have a comment, Amos?

>> AMOS TOH:  Two responses.  I want to emphasize the point that seems to be emerging from the panel that shutdowns really is a technical means of censorship, right?  It is just good old-fashioned censorship.  And it is just good old-fashioned repression and no different from shutting down a demonstration or shutting down a protest.

So I think that framing is incredibly important because then we have to examine the legal and political environments and factors that create and incentivize censorship.  If there is lack of respect for human rights in other areas, shutdowns are far more likely.

The second thing, on the practical issue, I want to make sure that it is conveyed that the mandate, the Special Rapporteur's mandate not just freedom of expression, but that of human rights defenders, certainly freedom of association, we have open channels of communication with governments and so basely we write letters to governments about raising concerns about allegations of human rights violations.  Not just individual cases of shutdowns which we have done so in the past but also legislative proposals that could be conducive to shutdowns and raising concerns.

The good thing about the second group of communications that we publish those communications immediately after we send it to the government in the hope that they can be used by civil society and other stakeholders in pushing back against concerning legislative proposals.  So I would like to raise that as another avenue for practical realtime reactive action.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Okay.  Thank you.  So that was a great discussion.  With that I think I would like to open up the discussion to the floor.  Please, put up your hands and I will call on you as I see them.  I see a lot of hands.

So since I did cut off Madam at the end there in the middle, can we have your comment first?  Keep it as brief as possible.  We don't have much time.

>> AUDIENCE:  Thank you.

I am from Ecuador.  So I want to comment to ask is it useful for us as citizens to know when a teleco has been sent notification of shutdown?  Maybe they have to comply, but they should notice the citizens that they are doing so.  Because in the case that was already exposed here we realised that that had happened because there was a whistle blower from a client of a teleco, a big client of a teleco who had complained for the shutdown.  They have the letter of the teleco telling them that it was an executive order, not just to the teleco which was Telefonica, but to all the association of Internet providers are in Ecuador.  Sometimes you feel you're a bit crazy because you think you cannot connect, that you cannot reach some places.  At least one of the good practices should be if they had to comply with the governments, if they seem to be forced to do that to shut down, at least to let the people know.  Thank you.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you.  So I think the gentleman that had a question.  So can you?

>> AUDIENCE:  Yes, I'm representing the telecommunications industry dialogue.  Before my intervention, maybe a response to the lady from Ecuador.  Maybe not, I don't know about that specific case.  But in general as someone said here, a teleco is never pro a shutdown because communications is part of our business and we also have a will to respect and promote freedom of expression of users.

So it might be so that the operator that received the request is bound by confidentiality, right?  Cannot say, cannot comment on the shutdown.  So it might be so that the operator in a case could contact its biggest client to tell the world about the shutdown.

I don't know if that was the case here, but that might be a scenario.

So when we discuss these issues on network shutdowns, they are complex already here in the room, but I can assure you that many times they are even more complex when there is a situation.  Maybe Talibans on the border or whatever.

Most specifically so it is complex and very sensitive for people locally in that country, which includes the colleagues, my colleagues locally in these countries.

So what is important in the cases of major events like this is that there is an escalation procedure within the country so that the decision is not taken only locally by those colleagues and management that are under pressure.

It has been discussed that the most important for us is to find ways before there are requests for shutdowns, such as multi-stakeholder collaboration, good new laws, procedures, policies, et cetera.

That is the most important.  But what to do in the specific case.  Well, there are things that can be done.  Seek transparency, seek to delay, ask for clarification, call for a meeting, reach out to peers, reach out to other stakeholders, point to the costs.

Here is my conclusion then.  We have all the -- I mean, many of us have policies.  We have a multi-stakeholder collaboration with the industry dialogue and the GNI, et cetera.  But what might be needed in the specific crisis situation is a one-pager to the local decision maker, to telecom minister or whoever is in charge.  Maybe in the next case it is not a telecom minister who is IT savvy and knows about these issues.  It might be someone who needs the arguments on a one-pager.  Maybe that is an action point for us all, to create a one-pager that can be handed over to the decision maker in the moment of crisis.  Thank you.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you, sir.

I believe, yes, ma'am?

>> Thank you, everyone.  Good morning.  My name is Priscilla and I'm a federal prosecutor from Brazil.  I have the blessing or curse, I don't know -- hard to balance -- to work with prosecuting child online porn and hate crimes through the Internet.  And I think what we are talking about and I don't have a question, just wanted to share with you guys what happened in Brazil recently with the shutdowns of what's app.  We are in the middle of this.  So what happened is that when you have, I think it was Nicola who told about trusting the Internet.  I think it is totally true, with trusting the Internet, with using the Internet, but I think what we are talking about are the bills of privacy, of security, bills from both sides.

Unfortunately, it is not everyone that used the Internet that had that trust.  Sometimes the abusers who commit crimes and damage very severe crimes against children.  And what happened in Brazil, we have a law called (Spanish phrase) that predicted some penalties when the ISPs don't collaborate with in investigation.  Under law, under judicial orders.  I want to clarify the breakdowns, the shut downs was judicial in Brazil.  There were three recently in the last few years.  What happened is that for initializing an investigation, we need this information.  I am not talking about cryptography now.  I'm talking about metadata, sometimes it's true what you said.  The judge, I don't want to be unfair with all of the judges in Brazil, but the fact is the majority of them doesn't understand about the Internet.  Imagine about cryptography.

What happened is that when we can't investigate a crime and there is a judicial order not responded by ISPs, there are some penalties.  Our vision, the prosecutors of Brazil has a vision for not prejudicing all the people put in prison, the whole society because of one criminal, someone that abused the privacy and trust in the Internet.  We prefer and we are trying to train some judges and policemen and law enforcement about this.  Please, use the economic block.  If you have something, it is against -- not against, I could not say against ...

(Off microphone.)

>> We still have some problem, let's deal with the foundation of the problem, not the society.  When it works, the financial block, when it works the penalties against some firms, against the ISP, it's okay.

And if they don't answer, there is a law in Brazil that obliges the services that is in Brazil to follow these rules.

But what is it?  I would say it is personal, I would say it is over measure to shut down even judicially.  If I do the same question for a mother who has a child raped and abused and there is this on the Internet, if I ask the same question to the mother, do you think it's over measured to shut down to save our child and gather this information?  I don't really know the answer.  I just want to finish.  Sorry, I'm over, passing my time here.  I want to say to you there is a public note from the federal and state prosecutors in Brazil.  It will be in our Web site.  I'm open to you.  You can Google it, public note of prosecutors in Brazil.  All I'm saying is that we indicated previously and preferentially the economic block.  Let's not prejudice anyone.  This is what I want to tell.  I'm totally open to some solutions.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you, ma'am.  I believe, ma'am, you had a question?  You in the glasses?  Yes, sorry.

>> AUDIENCE:  Hi.  Okay?  I am from Venezuela and I want to make some comments on her invention and also somebody here was talking about economic shutdowns.  I want to comment on that.  Regarding the 2013 shutdown, it lasted about 20 hours indeed for the electoral council Web site.  It was unavailable for about 20 hours from overseas.  And it lasted about 35 minutes in the country.  And the important thing I want to point out, it happened at the moment the polls were supposed to close.  People were announcing the government, pro-government activists were taking over the poll to stop from getting closed at the moment.  So there was some violence, taking over the polls at the moment and there was a lot of conversation about that in Twitter.  That was the exact moment that they took down the network.

And the Vice-President in an official statement, because it was broadcast by all the national public media say it was because they received threats from European hackers who were threatening to shut down the national council Web site.  That is his allegation of the reason why he made the decision.  By the time the Vice-President reacted, these were high level decisions for someone who is not in charge of telecoms or Internet.  Just for clarification because it wasn't that precise in the information.

And regarding the comments people were making about old-fashioned shutdowns, I want to point out we are getting updated shutdowns.  In 2015 and 2016 we are see what you are talking about here.  In the recent years, 2015, 2016, what we are seeing is not exactly complete shutdown.  But very localized shutdowns in very specific areas and with demonstrations or happenings and somebody talked about flash mob shutdowns.  We are seeing those happening.  In the last five minutes, ten minutes in a place with a demonstration, with police abuse.  We also are seeing something that is kind of different, but it is giving the same effect.  It is throttling, when it is a -- it is not shut down.  So it is not reported by Google or anything else, but it is working.  But it is so slow, nobody can use it.

We should take into consideration those kind of techniques when we are talking about shutdowns.  They are getting more sophisticated and the conversation is getting behind what they are doing right now.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Yes.

>> Thank you.  I work for the media in Zimbabwe.  I have two precise questions.  Firstly what is the role of the regulator in this whole Internet shutdown dilemma that we have?  Should they be playing a part especially in the terms of accountability?  When you look at the case of Zimbabwe when we had our Internet shutdown there was no accountability.  We didn't know who was supposed to account for it and so I just wanted to be find out that.

Then the second thing from an African point of view, there have been so many Internet shutdowns in Africa, but we don't seem to be having a regional reaction response to it.  What should we be discussing in terms of a global or regional strategy?  What are we saying in terms of accountability at regional and global level?  We've come for this particular forum and we have had quite a number of sessions on Internet shutdowns, but what are we saying?

Then the last one pertains to the Special Rapporteur's report on the role of the Internet service providers in respect of human rights.  And I have been listening with interest in terms of the ISP, telecoms, service providers.  Do we feel that we should actually be holding them to account, and how?  Especially given the dilemma of compliance provisions within their existing legislations.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Okay.  Can we collect maybe one or two more questions and then have the panelists respond to it?  You want to state yours, and your question?

>> AUDIENCE:  All right.  My name is Moez from Strathmore University.  We have been tracking what is happening especially in the region.  I want to raise the question of data sources.  I really have to commend Google for their public facing transparency report on traffic.  It is usually a go-to place to check what is happening in that country.  It is a challenge to other companies that have presence in most of these countries that are experiencing this.  They can easily, you know, openly avail that data because actually most of them are the ones who gain when the Internet is on.  There ought to be that sense of responsibility to the citizens that we can offer this data.

Hopefully, even taking it further, instead of just giving the national level traffic, maybe a heat map of the country so people can see without necessarily giving that.

Point number two has to be the work we do at Strathmore with open network observation.  It has ONO.  We try to have probes in the country to see what is happening beyond just the on/off question of having the network Internet.  Even when you have the Internet back on, you have issues of censorship of websites, regional problems.  If there is anyone else maybe from Africa or other countries who would want to actively help us have the probes and plug it into their country, that would be really great.  Thank you.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you.  Can you please keep ... keep it very brief?  We have literally five minutes.

Thank you.

>> AUDIENCE:  I'll be brief.  I work in this field in Venezuela.  I measure and document government censorship.  The main difficulties changing in the field because of the changing motivations and impacts of how governments are doing censorship.  I'll just refer to one, which is how many of you commented about the shutdowns now are becoming, pages to the point where they are no longer useful for the intended purpose.  You may be able to load the Web site or the app may have something, but the purpose of the Web site is not doing what it is meant to do.  It hard to know if the -- the services may know they are being throttled or see a difference but from the ground it is hard to measure.  Often times the companies that run these appliances or services are not as interested in sharing this information as openly, frequently and fast as the civil society could.  They have conflicting interests.  They don't want to go out and say we are being blocked and damage their relationship or reputation with governments. 

I commend Google on their efforts in sharing their traffic transparency, but even hard it is gather this information yourself and compare it with their services to know whether that actually is going on or reacts faster.  Build it into a more cohesive measurement strategy like what Moez was talking, where you can gather all of that information.  How can we convince these big companies to measure that?  Even if the governments and the companies have the best intentions, I want to share everything as fast as possible, you might not be able to detect when that censorship or that shutdown is happening in a small community because the percentage is too small in the whole big scheme of things.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you.  So I think that's about all the time we have for questions.  If anybody from the panel would like to respond to the questions, the role of the regulator and the regional responses?

>> RAJAN MATHEWS:  So very quickly from the operator's perspective, in India the regulator is an arm of government, right?  So no regulator is going to take a position contrary to the dictates of the government.  They are two separate arms of the government.  There's very little that you can hope for from a regulator going outside of the arms of government.  So the regulator is not going to go to the judiciary.  The operator is going to have to go to the judiciary as an independent arm.

Regional responses, I don't know.  I will have to talk with them.  I'm a little touched by this notion that censorship is something new.  We have been faced with censorship from age old domains.  I think we ought to say yes, of course, the Internet is a different kind and in terms of expansion.  But I think we have to be a little more nuanced.  It is the middle we are concerned about, not the extremes.  We need more finite responses in terms of the middle.  We agree that shutting it down completely is bad and leaving it open completely is not viable.  So what are the nuances between the gray and the gray.

>> I will pick it up from there.  I am excited about the Keep It On Coalition, but if we are going to be talking to the politicians they will not listen.  To Kaliba's question, it is about the power dynamics.  He is great among us, but with the people who are going to take the phone, place the order, and it's happening, where are they?  If we don't take the conversation to them.  It is not going to be pretty.  You know, it is not an easy discussion to have.  To understand why they are doing it that way, we will keep coming back here.  It is not surgical but it is the context we are operating in.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Okay.  I think then ...

>> Thanks a lot.  First of all, I think it is amazing to see the expressions we had actually in the audience today.  It is a great testament to the diversity of the IGF.

Two quick final thoughts.  When we talked about governments and especially capacity building of judges, that is a very important thing.  The Internet Society is going to invest in the LAC region to educate judges, what are the implications of decisions that affect the way the Internet works.  I think that's a very important thing to do.  Still on the government side I think taking sort of the whole of government approach in advocacy strategies and in particular I think we should reach out more to economic ministers and trade ministers, for example.  They may have interests that are much more in line with keeping the Internet on than other services.

So I think that's an interesting approach as well.

Finally, we talked about data sources and traffic, when traffic goes down.  We haven't discussed much here attribution.  How do you know that the shutdown is a government decision, is it a DDOS attack?  An electric outage?  That is something that four advocates is important to be able to have that information and find good second resources that can validate one way or the other in a timely fashion so they can respond.  And there might be strategies that go from monitoring social media to actually one of the most effective ones is the network of people on the ground who are able to gather information.  That is a very important aspect to invest in.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  Thank you.  So we have been told that we have one minute left.

>> AMOS TOH:  I'll take 45 seconds.  So two quick points.  One is I wanted to clarify, I don't think there is any gray area when it comes to shutdowns.  The Human Rights Council itself has condemned unequivocally any restriction of the of information.  I don't think there's anything such as a proportional shutdown.  There is a clear outcome here that we need to work towards.  Second, on the question about the UN Special Rapporteur's report and the responsibility of telecos, stay tuned to 2017, when we will conduct a deep dive analysis.  I want to say companies in the TID and GNI have shown some level of welcome commitment in sharing strategies.  Those need to be associated behind their own members.  The second thing I want toed a, it is not just telecos and ISPs.  We have to look at the responsibilities of network equipment providers, Internet exchange points and submarine providers.  Thank you.

>> ARJUN JAYAKUMAR:  I would like to thank all the panelists for this wonderful discussion.  We have learned about shutdowns for many regions, many reasons, and parts of the equitable terms, including disruptions this is a clear and arduous effort.  And I hope you join us on keeping the Internet safe and open.  Thank you all for your contributions.  Thank you.

(Applause.)

(The session concluded at 1333 CST.)


 
 

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United Nations

Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa La Bocage

Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

Switzerland

+41 (0) 229 173 678


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